Help, I’m stuck on the page! — 10 Tips to Get Your Pen Moving Again~

1) Breathe!  Slowly, deeply, it’s all okay and normal and you will be fine, truly. (And repeat.) 2) Put the story structure info away—in a drawer, in a trash can, in a virtual trash can—and don’t look at it again. When it causes anxiety it is no longer useful. Shred any piece of paper that tells you that there are rules for writing a novel. 3) Know that finishing is difficult for your creative self (and mine and everyone’s!). Resistance can swell a bit when the end of a draft (or even “almost-draft”) nears. 4) Know that you are the …

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A REASON NOT TO WRITE

Recently a writer shared a list of all the reasons why she needed to wait until winter to begin her new writing schedule. I read it over, paused a moment, and responded, “There will always be reasons not to write.”   Those times when life seems most overwhelming–when it comes rolling straight at us full-tilt–present some of the richest challenges and also opportunities. No better time to be writing with full commitment to your practice. A writing life is just that, a writing life. It goes on, whether times are smooth or filled with upheaval. When you feel tested, I …

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PLAY IT RISKY

I met Donald Maass last October when we were both among the presenters at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in Surrey, British Columbia. Not only is Maass a high-powered agent with great marketing advice for writers, he is also a writer who truly cares about other writers, their creative process, and their stories.  Read what he has to say about originality and fiction on his new blog at Writer Unboxed–and never play it safe again.

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NIGHT SWEATS

A writer friend confides that he suffers from nightmares as he nears completion of his first novel. “I wake in a cold sweat,” he confesses. “What if it’s not good enough? What if it’s no good? It’s like one of those dreams where you show up naked for the final exam. I didn’t used to be this scared–I didn’t doubt myself.” After we talk for several minutes, we agree the dreams, however uncomfortable, are a good sign. He is about to share his novel with a select audience of first readers, and he will be asking for their feedback. The …

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Quote of the Day: “Lower Your Standards”

My friend Marty G., a professional writer and editor, who has been at it for thirty-plus years, does not believe in writer’s block. When a writer complains she can’t make progress on the first draft of her book, Marty advises, “Lower your standards.” When it comes to the craft of writing, Marty is an advocate for excellence, but he also knows the difference between writing a first draft and a third draft. First, get the words on the page; second, make it better; third, make it zing!

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CONNECTION THROUGH IMPERFECTION

Notes from my journal, spring 2007: I’m sitting at my desk, eye level with the window that overlooks our ash trees and the gnarled and knobby juniper, home to the bird feeder. Hot day in the high desert, azure sky, early enough so the fresh cotton clouds stretch thin in the distance. By afternoon, with any luck, they will hang over us darkly, bringing rain. Bird songs dance in my open window–songs of sparrows (the little beauties my three-year-old daughter has named Redheads), chatter jays, robins, doves, and a woodpecker dressed for show. This perfect day draws me to the …

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